Kukri History & Heritage
Nepal Khukuri Gallery
4. THE THAPA & RANA ERA.
Early to late 19th century.
Rana Maharajas & Generals, mid 19th to mid 20th century.
Image: Heritage Knives.
Above: King Rana Bahadur Shah and Bhimsen Thapa listening to Mitra Karim Sen's singing.
Left: Bhimsen Thapa in his favorite style hat.
1811- assumes the title of General as the first Nepalese person, a title he gives himself.
1814-1816, C-in-C. of the Nepalese troops during the Anglo-Gorkha War but does not enter the battlefield.
He was the virtual ruler of Nepal till 1837 and the highest ranking official under the King. More known as a politician then warrior. Laid base for the Rana dynasty.
1839- died in jail.
Bhimsen Thapa, Mukhtiyar.
Born 1774 – d. 1839.
Son of Sano Kaji Amar Singh Thapa and brother of Nain Singh Thapa.
1785- held Bratabandha (sacred thread) ceremony together with the Crown Prince Rana Bahadur Shah in Gorkha.
Joined the military as a teenager.
1798- became Bodyguard to King Rana Bahadur Shah.
1800- follows ex-King Rana Bahadur (his borther in law) to exile in Varanasi serving as head of the Bodyguard unit and as military secretary.
1804- returned with the former king and appointed Kaji.
1806- Appointed Mukthiyar in 1806 when the Regent, exking Rana Bahadur was assassinated.
Due to a power vaccum in the Nepalese court Bhimsen was able to grow quickly in power.
Enforces earlier expansionist policies pushing Nepals (undefined) borders to the Teesta river in the east (bordering Sikkim) and the river Sutlej (in current Himachal Pradesh) which naturally leads to war eventually.
1809 - War with the Sikh Empire.
Mathber Singh Thapa. Mukhtiyar.
Born 1798 – d. 1845.
Son of Nain Singh Thapa. Nephew of PM Bhimsen Thapa and maternal uncle to Jung Bahadur Rana. Knownas "Kala (black/death) Bahadur"
1832 - Col. of Sri Nath battalion.
1833 - Commander of Singha Nath battalion.
1834/5 - Promoted to Lt-General.
1835-6 - failed mission to Great Britain.
1836- Appointed Kaji and as Governor of Gorkha.
1837 - Removed from office with the fall of PM Bhimsen. Went to live in Shimla and Ludhiana on a pension from the British East India Company.
1843/4 - Returned to Nepal at the
invitation of the Junior Queen Rajya Laxmi Devi (a Thapa herself) and appointed as C-in-C and Mukhtiyar.
1845 - Assasinated most likely by his nephew Jung Bahadur Rana.
Attributed to have introduced the use of feathers of the bird-of-paradise on the King of Nepals crown, a tradition he had picked up at the Court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab.
Fateh Jang Shah. Chautaria.
Born 1805 – d. 1846.
His great grandfathers father, Prince Chandrarup Shah was Prithvi Narayan Shahs fourth son.
1840-43 - Served as Chautaria under King Rajendra.
1843-45 Exile in Gaya, India.
1845- Promoted to Full General and command of three regiments.
Appointed as Chautaria (Mukhtiyar) and (4) member Royal Council.
1846 - Killed in the Kot massacre, which saw the establishment of the Rana dynasty.
Jang Bahadur Kunwar Ranaji (Bir Narsingh Kunwar), Prime Minister.
Born 1817- d. 1877.
Eldest of seven sons of Bal Narsingh Kunwar & Ganesh Kumari Thapa (daughter of Nain Singh Thapa).
1832 - joined the Nepalese Army.
1835- commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant of Cavalry.
1837- following the fall of PM Bhimsen Thapa (his father in laws brother) flees to Varanasi, India.
1839- Returns to Kathmandu and re-instated in the Army.
1840- promoted as Captain of Artillery.
1841 - appointed Capt. of Sher Battalion & ADC to Crown Prince Surrendra.
1842- appointed Kaji & Paymaster General.
1845- prom. Major-General & Brigade commander.
Assasinated his maternal uncle PM Mathber Thapa (nephew of PM Bhimsen Thapa).
1846- becomes Prime Minister (holds office twice 1846-1856 + 1857-1877) following the Kot massacre and Commander in Chief.
1848- given the title of "Rana" by King Surendra.
1850- leaves to visit Europe (France & UK) as Special Ambassador (becoming the first senior statesmen from the sub-continent to visit Europe).
1854- Presents Nepals first "modern" legalcode, Mulki Ain.
1855- Leads the Nepalse Army during 3rd Nepal-Tibet War.
Weapon gallery of Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana.
While visiting France in 1851 he received a sword of honour from Emperor Napoleon III, as shown to the right side.
1856- invested as Maharajah of Kaski & Lamjung (and the hereditary offices of Prime Minister and C-in-C (to be enjoyed in succession by his surviving brothers, his sons, then his nephews).
1857-8- Leads the Nepalese Army to assist the British East India Company during the Indian Mutiny. Receives a 19 gun salute, title of His Highness, India General Service and Mutiny Medals.
1872- invested with the title of T’ung ling ping ma kuo kang wang (Truly Valiant Prince; Commander of foot and horse) by the Chinese Emperor, a title several of the Rana Maharajahs would later receive.
1876- hosts the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) hunting trip in Terai.
1877 - dies from cholera at Patharghat, Terai.
Born 1818 - d. 1858.
Second son of Bal Narsingh Kunwar & Ganesh Kumari.
Younger brother of Jung Bahadur.
1844- Vakil at Calcutta.
1846- Minister of Finance.
1848- Appointed "Kaji".
1850- Temporary Prime Minister during his older brothers visit to Europe, til 1851.
1855 - Temp. PM during 3rd Nepal-Tibet War.
1856- Divisional Commanding General during 2nd expedition of 3rd Nepal-Tibet War.
1857- dies of tubercolosis. His descendants use the name "Bikram Rana".
Gambhir Singh Rayamaji, Colonel.
Hailed from the Nuwakot area and joined the Nepalese Army as a teenager.
1855- Fought in the 3rd Nepal-Tibet War.
1857- Held rank of Lieutenant in the Devi Dutta battalion of the Nepalese Army under Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana to assist the British during the Indian Mutiny, fought in Azamgarh.
1857 Oct. 30 - While the Nepalese Contingent of 1100 men faced more then 6000 mutineers at Chanda outside Jaunpur (current Uttar Pradesh, formerly Awadh/Oudh), Capt. Gambhir
"captured a gun single handed, after cutting down five gunners and driving away two others."
1858- Awared the title of "Bahadur" for his bravery and rank of Captain by Maharaja Jung Bahadur.
Retired as Col. and nick named "Langada Karnel" due to wounds inflicted during the Mutiny and settled in Tinchuli, Kathmandu.
+ 14,000 Nepalese Army trops served to in the Mutiny, which included battalions:
Kali Buksh, Devidutta, Barda Bahadur, Sherdal, Ganeshdal, Sabuj, Gorakhnath,
Barakh, Kalijang, 1st Rifle, Naya Gorakh, Shree Nath, Suryadal, Kali Bahadur, Narsinghdal, Jagdal, Bhairavnath, Purano Gorakh, Kali Prasad, Singhnath, Shamsherdal, Mahindradal, Rajdal, Jangnath and Rudradhoj.
The black and white image based on the colour painting is often refered to in scenes from the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-1816 but is from the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58 depicting Capt. Gambhir Singh Rayamaji.
Jagat Jang Rana, General.
Born 1848 – d. 1885.
Eldest son of Maharajah Jung Bahadur Rana.
Appointed as Lt-Col. at the age of four.
1854 - married Princess Tika Rajya Lakshmi Devi, daughter of King Surrendra.
1855 - Colonel.
1867 - married daughter of the Raja Sheoraj Singh of Kashipur.
1868- Eastern Com. General.
1877- Southern Com. General.
1879- Western Com. General
Built Manohara Durbar in Kathmandu.
1881/82 - plotted to overthrow his uncles, Maharaja Ranaudip & C-in-C Dhir Shumsher but failed. Taken of the roll of succession and exiled to India.
1885 - Pardoned and returned to Nepal, but died some six month later as specifically targeted in the coup d´etat of the Shumsher brother which was to establish the Shumsher Rana dynasty by the sons of Dhir Shumsher Rana.
Jit Jung Rana. General.
Born ca. 1849 - d. 1907.
Second son of Jung Bahadur Rana.
1855 - Married Princess Rajya Lakshmi Devi, second daughter King Surendra.
Appointed Col. at age of six.
1877- Northern Cdng-Gen
1881 - married
Princess of Tanjore, Rani Sethu Bai.
1882- Senior Western Com. General.
1884- Appointed as C-in-C.,
resigned as a protest of his brother Jagat Jung´s treatment and took up exile in India.
1885 - after the Shumsher brothers coup d´etat and killing of Jit Jung´s brothers, organised guerrilla raids into the Nepal Terai.
Thereafter settled in the Malabar hills of Bombay.
1907 - Died in Allahbad, India.
Take note of the pistol sword!
Copyright © 2020 Heritage Knives, by Kila Tool Works (P) Ltd. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author/web publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the web publisher.